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Relief pours in for seamen trapped off Chaguaramas (with CNC3 video)
Days after their harrowing plight was exposed by an exclusive Guardian Media Limited report several citizens yesterday came to the assistance of more than 160 South Asian fishermen stranded off the coast of Chaguaramas. Shortly after midday the “good Samaritans”, including Toco/Fishing Pond councillor Terry Rondon and Rabia Mohamed visited the fishermen to deliver much need food and medical supplies.
Rondon and Mohamed brought bags of clothes as well as bread, bottled water and canned foods. Shocked by the squalor aboard, they vowed to return later this week to resupply the fishermen who “looked visibly malnourished and sick.” The fishermen have been made virtual refugees in T&T after the foreign company they were employed by allegedly went insolvent leaving them without months of salaries and transportation home.
The T&T Guardian was told the nearest Indonesian Embassy to T&T, located in Caracas, Venezuela, has been contacted to provide relief for the fishermen, although the men claim they have not been contacted by their country’s officials. When a news team from T&T Guardian visited the four ships, which are anchored less than a mile off Alcan Bay, Chaguaramas, the sun-burnt fishermen seemed elated to see that locals had recognised their plight.
During a short tour of one of the vessels with officers of the Coast Guard, it was obvious that conditions aboard were inhumane. Potable water was nearly non-existant with the fishermen relying on bottled water which were provided by concerned citizens. The lingering scent of human excrement filled the air in and around the vessels with many of the fishermen being unable to take a bath for the past few weeks.
Hendrik Hermanto, one of the only foreigners aboard who could speak English, explained that they had been surviving on small handouts from yacht owners to supplement the fish they were able to catch from their boats. The T&T Guardian understands that the fishermen all have valid work permits and are allowed to leave their boat to come ashore. However, Hermanto explained that neither he nor his shipmates had any money to buy supplies if they came to shore.
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